Written by Niki Iwasaki
Q1. What is your background and what brought you to teach at NYU?
As the Director of Sales and Marketing of the iconic ‘21’ Club in Midtown, I am responsible for developing strategic partnerships, promotional campaigns, sales and performance analysis, research and market analysis, and brand management. Overall, I have nearly 15 years of luxury marketing experience in the international hospitality and retail fields. My education includes a M.S. in Hospitality Industry Studies from NYU and a B.S. in International Business from the College of New Jersey. In 2011, a former professor asked if I would be interested in teaching – and I haven’t looked back since. At NYU SPS, I teach marketing, branding, leadership, and concept development in the hospitality industry with a focus on restaurants.
Q2. Could you tell me about some of the projects you’ve worked on?
Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to work on some incredible projects. In the early 2000s, I was at the forefront of bringing luxury brands online with e-commerce enablement projects at Chanel. In Sydney, I worked on creating furniture, fixtures and equipment (FF&E) brand standards for Accor’s Asian expansion and participated in brand conversions in Budapest and Queenstown. Some of my favorite projects at ‘21’ include the development and launch of Bar ‘21’, a wedding focused marketing campaign that culminated in a Great Gatsby themed showcase which included several partners, such as Warner Brothers Studios; the revitalization of a historic brand and culinary program; and the realignment of our private dining process and selling strategies.
Q3. Can you talk about the Restaurant Sales and Marketing class that you are teaching?
This brand new course is designed for the busy professional, offering practical tools and real-life examples in a format that allows for self-paced on-line and in-person learning. Upon completion of the Restaurant Entrepreneurship Professional Diploma program, students will have created a full business plan for a restaurant concept including an actionable sales and marketing plan.
Q4. What is the significance of Sales and Marketing in Restaurant Entrepreneurship today? Why is it so important for students to develop this skillset?
Sales and Marketing is a vital component of operating a successful restaurant, particularly in a market as dynamic and dense as NYC. There are about 20,000 eateries in operation here. Why would guests choose your restaurant? Will there be enough of them for you to stay in business? This course teaches potential and current entrepreneurs how to identify target markets, differentiate themselves from the competition, build a brand and associate culture, and how to best promote a property.
Q5. As a successful industry leader, what would you encourage students to gain while learning at school?
Build your network! Get to know your fellow students, professors, and guest speakers. Volunteer for industry events. Follow up on introductions. One of the best reasons to attend NYU is the access to industry professionals both current and future. I cannot tell you how many times that I have reached out to NYU connections to ask for advice or an introduction and vice versa. This is an enormous part of building your career.